The myth of the world's oldest culture
The lost world of the Bradshaws
Why no cities or villages?
The extinction of the Megafauna
Migrantion of flora and fauna
Wrestling and reconciliation
Wrestling and Reconciliation
Since colonisaton, British and Australian authorities have tried numerous strategies to reconcile with the indigenous population. These strategies have included flogging Convicts that wronged Indigenous people, converting Indigenous people to Christianity, putting Aborigines in missions, and more recently, apologising for the actions of previous generations. These strategies have not been successful as reconciliation is still being held up as an elusive dream.
Perhaps more success would have been achieved had authorities studied how reconciliation was achieved between Indigenous groups and subsequently embraced those traditional methods, or at the very least, tried to understand why they worked. Arguably, wrestling was the most successful method for warring tribes to make peace and keep the peace. As told by Gavin Dickson, author of From Dreaming to the Dreamers:
“In the Dreamtime, long before people fully understood the laws of Byamee the Skyfather, life was savage, harsh and cruel. Many people were killed in the wars between the tribes and violence became a way of life, with never ending reprisal killings.
This was of great concern to Beereun, the shingle back lizard man, who lost many family members to this and he vowed to find a solution to this problem. He went to the sacred waterhole and began singing to the Skyfather for guidance. He sat chanting for a long time, so long in fact that his ribs began to show because he was starving himself. One day a giant snake appeared before his eyes and the old lizard man froze in fright. The head of the snake was so big it could have swallowed him whole and he just sat there staring. But the snake didn’t eat him, it simply said, ‘watch the kangaroos’ before suddenly disappearing.
Beereun realised that this was the Rainbow Snake, the messenger between the Skyworld and Earth and so he did exactly as instructed. He followed a mob of kangaroos and closely observed. He saw them grooming, chasing and even fighting one another; one day he saw two large bucks come to blows. First he saw them posturing as a challenge then he saw them striking at each other by sitting on their tails and kicking with their powerful hind legs, causing fur to fly in all directions. Finally when they were close enough, he saw them grasp each other in a headlock to throw the other to the ground. Once this had been achieved, the loser simply hoped away, thereby conceding defeat.
It then dawned on the old man lizard that the lesson to be learnt by watching the kangaroos, was that death need not be the outcome of the fight. If men simply put down their weapons and fought each other in the rules of competition, then peace might be achieved. Making others agree with him was a difficult task but old Beerun persisted and eventually he was able to convince enough people to organise a festival around a large kangaroo hunt.
It was believed that by eating the flesh of the giant marsupial, that its spirit and strength would be transferred to the fighters. Invitations were sent to all the neighbouring tribes and all the warriors agreed to limit their fighting to the contested battles only, performed in front of crowds and accepting defeat if thrown to the ground. The combined wrestling and kangaroo festival was called ‘Coreeda’ and ushered in new age of peace and prosperity.”
Across Australia, different tribes had slightly different rituals and rules associated with the wrestling, but they all seemed to serve roughly the same purpose of building a tribal identity while redirecting warring sentiments in a way that didn't do harm - much like professional sport does today. As told by inventor David Unaipon when giving account of the wrestling rituals of Ngarrindjeri.
“Presently a man steps forward. He turns to the contestants and addresses them. ‘Now boys, you are called on this day to uphold the honour of your tribe. One of your may win this coveted prize.’ And he holds before them a newly made boomerang and waddy. These two weapons are stuck on the ground endwise. The referee then calls for the boys who are to defend the weapons. Perhaps the Pelican totem tribe offers to do this. The onlookers shout ‘kai hai!’ Now one of the Pelican boys stands in front of the Boomerang and waddy and faces the Emu boys, who stand from ten to twenty yards away.
After a while, the referee calls the Emu boys, ‘take the weapon from the Pelican boys!’ One of the Emu boys walks forward to take the weapon, and when he has gone half way he is met by the Pelican boy, who grapples with him to prevent him from coming any farther. Supposing the Emu boy throws the Pelican boy to the ground, he rushes forward, and is met by a second Pelican boy. He serves the second Pelican boy in the same way, by throwing him on his back. By the time he has almost reached the coveted prize; but he has to encounter a third Pelican boy, and now the struggle begins. The Pelican boy strains every muscle of his body to defend the prize and maintain the honour of his tribe. Both boys fall to the ground, but are up again at once. The Emu boys get nearer and nearer to the prize. He reaches out one hand to take hold of the waddy, but fails. At last he gives up further attempts to capture the prize, and returns to his fellows with a feeling of defeat.
The second Emu boy makes an attempt, but he has not the strength to succeed, because he is the youngest of the three. The third Emu boy now advances. Instead of walking he runs and perhaps knocks the first Pelican boy down, and meets the second boy and throws his to the ground. He then grapples with the third Pelican boy, and throws him to the ground. Then he takes the waddy and returns with it to his companions, amid the cheers of the onlookers. He feels a very proud boy.
Now the competitors are given a rest for perhaps an hour or more. The referee takes the boomerang, and places it on the Emu boy’s side. He faces the Pelican boys, and says in a loud tone, so all those present may hear, ‘take the weapon from the Emu boys!’A Pelican boy goes forward, and is met half way by an Emu boy. They begin to wrestling. Perhaps the Emu boy manages to throw his opponent over his shoulder, and carry him to his company. A second Pelican boy also fails, and it comes to the task of the third pelican boy to wrest the prize from the Emus, but he also fails. Then the friends of the Emu tribe become excited, because the Emu boys have won the two prizes, the boomerang and the waddy. The Pelican boys take their defeat in good part, and wave their hands to the Emu boys as a sign of friendship and a the expressionism of a desire to meet them in the future in similar contests. “ Unaipon 1930 quoted in Froming Dreaming to the Dreamers.
Today, most of the Indigenous Australia’s wrestling traditions are extinct. A contemporary version has been pieced together on accounts of the various rituals and traditions and has take the name Coreeda. Although it has been recognised by various international wrestling bodies, it is virtually unknown by the general Australian populace. This desire to remind blind to the traditional method of peace keeping and peace making in Aboriginal society perhaps best explains why reconciliation in Australia has proved to be such an elusive concept.
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"The reduction of plant diversity, however it came about, would have led to the extinction of specialized herbivores and indirectly to the extinction of their non-human predators." Megafauna extinction
" Is the keelback’s ability to coexist
with toads a function of its ancestral Asian origins, or a consequence of rapid adaptation since cane toads arrived in Australia?" Migrant flora and fauna
"I've set myself the modest task of trying to explain the broad pattern of human history, on all the continents, for the last 13,000 years. Why did history take such different evolutionary courses for peoples of different continents? (Jared Diamond)" Why didn't Aborigines build cities?
"It then dawned on the old man lizard that the lesson to be learnt by watching the kangaroos, was that death need not be the outcome of the fight." Wrestling and reconciliation